Justice Department to launch nationwide body camera program

The Obama administration is allocating $20 million for a new national program which will provide body cameras for law enforcement officers in approximately 50 police departments across the country. The grants come in the wake of a string of police misconduct cases, two of which were caught on camera in New York and South Carolina, where the respective suspects were killed.

The Department of Justice launched a “policing task force” in December 2014 in response to the Ferguson case, and in their report published March 2 the panel cited a study which suggested that policemen have nearly 90 percent fewer incidents of violence and 60 percent fewer complaints filed against them when they are wearing video recording devices.

The program has the full support of new Attorney General Loretta Lynch who made the following statement Thursday:

“(The program is a) vital part of the Justice Department’s comprehensive efforts to equip law enforcement . . . with tools, support and training they need to the tackle the 21st century challenges we face.”

Even Hillary Clinton has jumped on the bandwagon, calling for mandatory body-cams in all law-enforcement agencies nation-wide in order to “improve transparency and accountability” and “help protect good people on both sides of the lens”.

The White House and Justice Department aren’t the only ones calling for more visual documentation of police practices. On Thursday, Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco announced that he is requesting $6.6 million to put cameras on all city-officers to encourage both citizens and police to “behave better.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 25 percent of law enforcement agencies across the country currently use body-cameras, but a large majority are still experimenting with the new technology to study it’s effectiveness.

 

[CNN] [NBC Bay Area] [Photo courtesy NBC News]